Don’t you dare sleep on this psychedelic indie rock group.
We’re back with another Member Spotlight, because our members are FRIGGIN’ AWESOME and always worth bragging about!
This week, I’m so happy to bring you my conversation with the members of the up-and-coming indie rock band, Ritual Talk. I was lucky enough to see them a few months ago at a So Far Sounds show in the Lower East Side. That the format encourages a slightly simplified adjustment to an act like theirs didn’t matter; I left blown away by the complexity of their harmonies, each member adding their own layer of color to an already beautiful musical canvas. I knew I had to interview them — this is what we’re all about!
After a few months of scheduling conflicts and protracted back and forth’s, we finally managed to get together for a chat. The band was kind enough to invite me over to their new apartment / musical commune out in Bushwick, where I was privy to one of the coolest living situations I’ve ever seen. I’ve barely tolerated some of my roommates in the city, let alone worked with them; the fact they manage to not only live together, but let their creative impulses thrive in this environment is a testament to how well this group gels. And their music so clearly proves that.
Check out my conversation with this wonderful new group below, watch their two recently-released music videos, and keep an ear out for their upcoming EP — ‘Rippled Glass’ — slated to come out this fall:
So, let’s get started — when and how was the band formed?
Alex D. — Technically, Ritual Talk started a few months ago in April, but we’ve all been playing together for different amounts of time. Alex and I have been playing together for over ten years at this point. Tom’s been with us for three years or so. TJ’s been in and out for a while; he played guitar with us before. And then Dylan came in about a year ago, and that’s when we realized “Oh, we have a thing here.” And so it kind of solidified into the April birth of Ritual Talk.
Dylan — Also Tom and I have been playing together for five or six years, and I think he was the reason why I’m here.
You guys are so multifaceted, can you give us a recap on who plays what instrument?
Alex T. — In a live setting, Alex is singing lead on most songs, and plays guitar. Tom plays drums and sings, TJ sings and plays keys, I sing and play bass, and Dylan sings, plays guitar. We’ll all dabble in percussion as well.
Before Ritual Talk you were Second Child, what was behind the transition?
Alex D.— Second Child was a number of years of rotating cast members, so to speak. We had some music out but it’d been a long time since we’d done something and we were working on a new sound. When Dylan and TJ found themselves at guitar and keys, we had for the first time in five-plus years the lineup solidified. We’d been working on new material and we felt like we had a new sound, and it just seemed like a fresh slate.
Alex T. — I think also the timing is interesting, because Second Child started when we began college. We moved away from our High School band and started a college band, and now we’re moving on past that phase in our life and that’s when everything kind of solidified. Now it’s like a real life band.
Alex D.— Out of the incubator.
Was there a seminal moment when you realized you had something worth solidifying?
Alex D.— I guess that summer when Dylan first joined and TJ moved in, and we first started playing together as this fivesome. The very first show we played together was eye-opening. Dylan, you can probably speak to this, because you came in not knowing exactly what to expect.
Dylan — Yeah, this was last summer. I’d just graduated college and almost instantly after moving back to New York I started playing with them. They’d sent me demos and it was a little different from the music I’d been listening to, and after getting together and rehearsing for a while I started to feel really good. And when we played our first show, like Alex said, it was kind of an “Oh shit!” moment. After leaving the stage, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. And apparently everyone else also felt the same way, that it elevated things to a new level.
Alex D. — We played a few shows that summer and all felt that. That summer was in effect the death of Second Child and the birth of Ritual Talk.
How has your music evolved over time?
Alex D. —All five of us are singing, so there are a lot of harmonies and a pretty heavy reliance on vocals, and that’s always been there. We had an EP out as Second Child that similarly featured a lot of vocal harmonies. It was definitely a different sound — it was folksier, there were a few acoustic guitars on there. I guess it got a little headier — maybe not a little. I like to think it’s more mature.
Dylan — it’s more layered, more thought-out maybe. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve thrown the term art-rock around sometimes, where there’s a lot going on.
Alex D.— in the sense of painting an image, there’s a lot more colors on our palette nowadays.
TJ — I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that this forthcoming record is very much the product of a lot of input from multiple people. I’m not exactly sure how it was with Second Child but-
Alex T. — It was just the two of us. And we were also just out of High School.
TJ — so when we say that Ritual Talk was born out of this lineup, the record was also born out of everybody’s inputs and ideas. When Dylan says the music seems more thought-out, I think it’s just the number of thoughts is higher because the number of people involved is higher.
Walk us through your creative process.
Alex D. — The EP that’s coming out, four out of five songs I’ve written, and then one of them Trem and I wrote. A lot of times what happens is that I come to the table with a tune and then we flesh it out and it comes alive in everyone else’s hands.
What inspires you when writing these songs?
Alex D.— I guess it’s all pretty environmental. You can usually tell what I’ve been listening to based on what I’m putting out; I feel that goes for anyone. So that goes for music listening, book reading, that goes for where you are.
That’s a good way to plug Travel Notes — I did some traveling and the songs that came out of that in a little EP sounded different because of the circumstances of the traveling. It’s all pretty based on where you are mentally and physically.
Alex T. — I think that a lot of the lyrical content comes from that space that we talked about — heady — there’s a lot of thinking about being a human, and what that means, and kind of exploring that headspace. I feel like many of our songs — even if they are related to love, or life situations — dive more into the psyche as opposed to, you know, “I loooove this person sooooo much.” It’s kind of the more mental aspect of everything.
I’d be curious to see, as we get back into the studio, if something new arises, since we’ve started living together.
You guys just released a music video — ‘Help, I’ve Been Dreaming’ — tell us more about that.
Tom — I would love to talk about this. It’s kind of a very personal connection to the video, because my younger brother made it. And it was an interesting process making it, because when he started working on it, he kept returning to this idea of our evolution into Ritual Talk. He was growing as an artist, and so it was kind of like we were growing together, which is such a cool thing. There was a lot of going back to the drawing board, because there was a lot of effort and thought that went into that video — it’s very complex — I think we’re all very happy with the way that it’s come out and the way it represents us and the song as well. We’ve gotten really good feedback about it and are just really happy with it overall.
What inspired the song itself?
Alex D. — Earlier you saw Lauren waving through the window. We’ve been dating a long time — since High School — and the only time we haven’t been dating in seven plus years, was a month a few years ago when we took a break and kind of reevaluated things. This song kind of came out of that — that period of being separate and then kind of falling into some darker holes that she often helped me, not even out of, but avoid completely. And that song was kind of like “Oh shit, come back!”
And it worked!
Alex D. — Success!
Tell us about the coming EP — ‘Rippled Glass’
Alex T.— The hope is to have it out this fall, and then we’re working on some fall tour stuff, and we’ve been playing a lot in the city, we’ve had two shows every weekend a couple weekends in a row and I think our goal is to continue playing.
In the fall this should be out, then following up with some more shows and hitting some spots in the northeast, and then from there, working on some new things.
Alex D.— there’s plenty in the pipeline.
What are the upcoming shows?
Alex T. — We’re playing Friends and Lovers on the 24th. We have a so far show that Friday, then there’s Cape House.
That’s it for this week’s Member Spotlight. Make sure you follow Ritual Talk on Facebook for news about their upcoming shows and updates on ‘Rippled Glass’. Seriously, if you have the opportunity to go see them perform, don’t hesitate and DO IT!